Breakfast Blend: Focus, “Hocus Pocus”

I was driving around the other day, attempting to complete last minute holiday errands when the “hot lunch” came on the local representation of the hard rock station.

“The Bone” is the local pathway to bands like Black Sabbath and Rush and Def Leppard, who I admit are not my faves on one hand, but on the other do offer the crunch of guitars.

The “hot lunch” is just an hour of said groups with a theme suggested by the DJ, and with listeners then calling in their requests.

This particular edition of the “hot lunch” featured songs that had whistling, and the set kicked off with the great and goofy Hocus Pocus by the Dutch band Focus.

Spearheaded by killer guitar player Jan Akkerman, this was the band’s only real foray onto the American pop/rock scene, but so off beat and silly a song it is, punctuated by blasts of Akkerman’s wizardry, that the whole song is just one great goulash of fun.

Part of the shtick was also provided by keyboard player/flautist/yodeler Thjis van Leer.

Yeah, yodeling, flute, bridges with drums, and even whistling along with, as noted, those searing and interesting Akkerman solos.

It is madness, but damn happy madness, at that.


5 thoughts on “Breakfast Blend: Focus, “Hocus Pocus”

  1. I have a feeling this is your career-best Remnants post, Lawr.

    1) Loved this then, love it now.

    2) Intriguing assortment of giant cabinets. Wonder what those big brown ones are?

    3) Never heard it played this fast. Punk drums!

    4) Wonder if they’re now gray and balding and fat and still playing this at fairs and festivals?

  2. thanks.

    Yeah, I loved it then, and at first I was sort of hesitant to put the live version up (there is another that is like four minutes) because in a way, they are so raw. But, watching van Leer sing and play keys and flute and scat and whistle (that is awesome: I cannot whistle for shit, let alone in tune) and as the song progresses, sweat more, is just great.

    Akkerman is like 20 years ahead of his time with the shred factor. I don’t remember seeing anyone play banging fingers off the frets like he does in the intro till maybe the 90’s? Do you?

    Drums are, as you point out, really great. in fact the rhythm section is not necessarily crazy wild, but just playing with Akkerman suggests how good those guys are.

    And, yeah, wall of Marshalls. cant be using all of them?

    I don’t want to think of them a la the Moody Blues, with pot bellies wearing double knits and polyester shirts (I swear, there is a red rocks of them in the late 80’s and it is flat out embarrassing).

    I will think of them like this, though I am not particularly sentimental about such things, thank you,

  3. Yeah, but they’re hardly all Marshalls. It’s like a hodgepodge of Marshalls and I-don’t-know-whats. I’m fascinated by that brown stack behind Akkerman.

    Not impressed by tapping. Maybe I could appreciate it more if I didn’t know it completely dominated and ruined guitar solos in the 1980s.

    I hate flute in rock too. I can’t think of one other rock song with flute in it that I like, come to think of it.

  4. I kind of have a soft spot for Aqualung and Barre. Sigh, I guess early Moody Blues (Nights in White Satin) but I will not try to argue that either of the latter two is rock. Aqualung can pass though, imho.

    I am not huge on tapping either, and, I think this might at least be the first instance of it, so he should get a little cred for thinking out of the box.

    So, is half of what you do when you watch a band is listen, and half look at what they have and what they are doing and how they are doing it?

    I never used to think like that till I started playing seriously. not any more.

  5. Yes. Admittedly, visual is quite important to me. Certainly explains the neverending KISS/Joni Mitchell conflict.

    Wouldn’t say half though. Maybe a third. Also no coincidence that bands who play the active music I like are usually automatically more visually active.

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